I am an artist located in the historic Niagara Frontier Food Terminal (NFFT), a complex of architecturally significant historic market buildings in the Clinton/Bailey neighborhood on Buffalo’s East Side. After years of struggle, the NFFT is working to reinvent itself as a place for small, local food and beverage startups, specialty food suppliers, and ethnic food retailers. Most notably, the NFFT is also home to over 25 artists leasing affordable art space.
In addition to being an artist, I’m also a grad student in my final semester at Buffalo State. After many years as a planner and community organizer, my goals now are to merge my decade of experience in community and economic development with the arts, and shift my role into being a social practice artist. Social practice artists harness the creative potential within a community and use the power of the arts to create dialogue and address social change. We involve people in the public development process, and thereby help build back community ownership of public space.
As my final grad school project, I envision implementing a community art project. Public art is traditionally accomplished by engaging a commissioned artist from outside a neighborhood to develop artwork without resident involvement. This can lead to artwork that doesn’t speak to the authentic narrative and identity of a place, leading to cultural erasure and gentrification.
The process I’m proposing involves outreach to property owners, community-based organizations, and residents. I will organize a series of workshops utilizing the Creative Problem Solving process I’ve learned through my time at Buffalo State's Creative Studies Department, to identify a shared vision around what the building’s history and identity is. This will be followed up with a community paint day, or series of paint days, where people in the surrounding neighborhood will be invited to join in the creation of the final artistic product - likely a mural.
Funded by Buffalo, NY (February 2023)